What do you do when you look in the mirror and see two wiry, caterpillar-like brows staring back out? Book an appointment to get them shaped, of course (unless, you want to grow them out). But when it comes to taming arches, is it better to wax or to thread? We’ve contacted a few of the industry’s leading brow artists to weigh in on the topic.
Turns out that it all really comes down to preference. There are tons of salons who have skilled, trained pros ready to help you achieve your ideal brows that will frame your face perfectly. As with any treatment it’s important to do your research (like you are now; good job!), to find the right place, hair removal expert, and service to make you look and feel the best version of yourself.
best for: normal, non-sensitive skin, though there are some all-natural waxes that can be less irritating to sensitive types
cost: In terms of price, waxing is similar to threading, but often the prices can go much higher if you want a very specific shape or if you see a high-end brow designer. At a typical salon, you’ll pay $10–$40; much more than that is fairly uncommon.
upkeep: Noemi Grupenmager, founder and CEO of Uni K Wax Centers, says that keeping regular appointments will help maintain arches and extend the length of time needed before you need to go back in for a full-on shaping. Scheduling regular salon maintenance may also mean that you can stay virtually hands off: “When you have your brows professionally waxed and shaped regularly, you won’t have to reshape them at home,” says Grupenmager.
the details: Brow waxing has been popular for as long as we can remember, and now there are a ton of spots exclusive to waxing facilities, where hair-phobes can drop in for a service day and night. One of the reasons waxing is so popular is because of how long one trip to a pro can last you. “Waxing removes hair below the skin level and removes the follicle, which is why the results last fairly long—from three to six weeks,” says Grupenmager. She recommends skipping alcohol and caffeine before appointments, because stimulants can tighten your pores, and make it more difficult (and therefore more painful). To further avoid irritation, don’t exfoliate the brow area on the day of, or day before, waxing. If you have sensitive skin, look for a salon that uses all-natural elastic wax, which will be much less likely to cause irritation.
best for: those with sensitive skin or those taking prescription acne medications
cost: The cost of threading, like any beauty service, depends on who you see and where you see them. A threading session at most salons usually varies somewhere between $10–$30.
upkeep: Generally, expect to visit the salon about every three weeks to have brows re-threaded, but the timeframe does ultimately depend on your hair growth. Maintaining your brows at home is possible, but Michelle Wu, who is a “Senior Brow Architect” at Browhaus in New York City, warns: “Don’t pluck your own if you’re not familiar with DIY grooming, and don’t, under any circumstances, shave away strays!” We say, if its precision you’re after, leave the maintenance to the experts.
the details: First, let’s look more closely at threading. This ancient method of hair removal originated in India and has taken over in western culture in recent years; threading salons are seemingly popping up faster than frozen yogurt shops did in 2009. It’s a popular hair removal technique among people with sensitive skin or those on prescription acne medications, which can cause the skin to get thinner and be more prone to sensitivity. “With a well-trained technician performing your threading, you should not experience breakouts.” says Wu. Depending on sensitivity of your skin you may experience some redness after the procedure. “Don’t worry, this is normal and should subside shortly after your appointment,” she adds. After threading, keep the area clean and avoid directly touching your skin too much to avoid any additional irritation. (If you want to know what it’s really like to get threaded for the first time, read this!)